COVID-19 & Sports: How the Pandemic Affects Young Athletes
As most sports seasons, practices and camps have been canceled in our area due to the coronavirus pandemic, many athletes, including high school and college seniors, may be experiencing a sense of loss and resentment.
What age groups feel the psychological effects of sports cancellations most?
All ages for different reasons. High school kids are impacted in a multitude of ways; they are undergoing hormonal changes and use sports as a way to help reduce stress and control anxiety and depression. Also, sports are a way to earn college scholarships so there can be increased pressure.
For younger children, sports are often a way to socialize and build upon those skills. When school and other social interactions have been taken away, not having sports can cause a child to feel isolated.
What kind of actions do you see children taking because of this?
I have noticed that families are using this time to spend together, often by getting outside. You will see parents playing catch with their kids in the backyard, families going for walks and other activities together.
What advice would you give a child going through this type of situation?
We all have a lot of feelings right now, such as being scared because a loved one is sick, sad as you cannot see your friends at school or on the playground or even confused because you do not know what is going on. It is important to recognize your feelings and express them to your parents or another trusted adult.
Is there a particular sport that impacts a child the most?
I believe all sports impact children as none are going on currently in an organized fashion. Contact sports with kids such as football, wrestling and even basketball may see their sports return later as they cannot socially distance themselves while playing and practicing.
How do parents typically react to the situation?
Parents have to deal with an increase in responsibilities and stress at this difficult time. However, they have responded well to encourage their kids to keep learning and still exercising and seeing friends over virtual platforms.
What advice you would give parents about talking to kids or how to react to this situation?
The main thing for parents to understand is that when talking to kids about the pandemic they need to stay supportive of their children and keep encouraging them to stay positive. It can be difficult for parents as children do not understand this pandemic.
One thing to keep in mind is that, at one point, things will improve. Things may not be back to the old normal, but we will be able to get back outside and back to schools and other social gathering. Keep encouraging children by having them plan for the future as they will have something to look forward to when things begin to normalize.
Do you see sports at schools changing because of the pandemic? If so, how?
I can definitely see sports changing, but how they change is hard to predict. We can look at other countries and see how they are beginning to roll sports back out. Most likely games will be played without fans on a professional level to start. Then when fans do return, they will most likely require wearing a mask. and other social distancing measures. Players on the bench will most likely be six feet apart as well. Sports may opt not to do any handshakes or high fives as well.
To schedule a virtual visit or in-office appointment with Dr. Yost, assistant professor of family and community medicine at UM School of Medicine, call 667-214-1800. He sees patients in Columbia and downtown Baltimore. Dr. Yost is a team physician for the Maryland Terps, UMBC Retrievers and Howard County Public Schools.